Plays Tourism Card On Day Call To Ban Grows; Driver: 'We Make People Happy'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They are lucky to have a job.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday that carriage horses in the city are fortunate to be working — rather than dead.

His words came as critics call for horse-drawn carriage rides to be banned, following a tragedy over the weekend, reports CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown.

“Most of them probably wouldn’t be alive if they didn’t have a job,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg, defending the controversial horse carriage industry, lashed out at critics that want to put a stop to it.

“You should remind those people that the way we pay our municipal employees and the way we pay them is with taxpayers’ money and the taxpayers depend on tourists coming here, and going out in carriages are just one of those things that they do,” Bloomberg said.

But over the weekend there was a disturbing sight. A carriage horse named “Charlie” dropped dead in the street.

It’s still unclear why.

A necropsy will show whether Charlie was abused, neglected or died of natural causes.

But the incident is re-igniting calls for horse-drawn carriage rides in New York City to be banned.

“This case just points out the treacherous life of a horse, whose job it is to drag around thousands of pounds of carriage and people,” said State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal.

Rosenthal said she’s gotten more than 5,000 letters and e-mails in the last few months supporting her state bill to ban horse-drawn carriages.

Other lawmakers have floated plans to replace the popular tourists’ rides with electric cars.

Both are options those in the industry are, not surprisingly, opposed to.

“It’s very hard to wade your way through and discover who’s actually a genuine animal rights person and who’s just looking to steal your livelihood,” 25-year carriage driver Conor McHugh said.

McHugh pointed out the ASPCA inspects the horses frequently and signs off on their conditions.

He said despite the tide of fury from activist groups and some lawmakers his industry has plenty of support.

“We get to make people happy every day,” McHugh said.

But even many of those people admit they’re torn.

“It kind of is a bit cruel because it is so busy here and everything. Maybe it’s fine in the park, but in the streets? I don’t know,” said tourist Louise Young.

Brown made dozens of calls — from the city to advocates of the horse carriage industry to opponents — and no one could tell her now much money the carriage rides generate, or how much the city would stand to lose if they were stopped.

What do you think about Bloomberg’s comments?  What do you think of the horse-carriage industry in NYC?  Share your thoughts in the comments section…

Comments (43)
  1. Wendy Goodman says:

    If you want to see what life is like for a NYC carriage horse, go down to Javits Center where several of the “stable” are located. The horses are kept in old buildings that were not designed with horses in mind, requiring them to walk down several stories (via ramps in the buildings) to the street. If there is ever a fire, there is no possible way to get the horses out before they perish. They have no fields to exercise or just laze about in. If they’re not at work, they’re stuck in a stall. The horses must travel all the way from the stablee to the park, dodging traffic that has become increasingly congested and dangerous for them. When when they are no longer able to work, when their legs are battered from trotting endlessly on pavement, they are sold and sent to slaughter. I’ve had to threaten carriage drivers with the police when I’ve seen horses working that were visibly lame, or working in extremely hot or incliment weather that was dangerous for them. Unless a stable is built in, or in close proximety to the park, to minimize the amount of time the horses spend in city triaffic, there is no reasonable way to believe that this industry has any future in NY. For the sake of these animals, it’s time to do away with this archaic practice.

  2. Arlene Steinberg says:

    Mayor Bloomberg is without question the most ignorant, coldhearted moron ever to have bought himself THREE TERMS in New York. First he gassed thousands of geese, wishing them sweet dreams. Now he makes heartless comments about the carriage horses. Guess what, people – he doesn’t think much better of YOU. After 3 terms, what has he done for anyone – NOTHING. Get rid of this clown and his puppet, Chirstine Quinn, who is no better. A lewader who has compassion for animals will also have compassion for people. Bloomberg sucks.

  3. christina says:

    Bloomberg is an ass! He has NO compassion , he just thinks of the mighty dollar. These horses should not be in the streets on NY! How many of them have to die, before this administration even thinks about banning this horrible industry.
    Bloomberg and his concubine, Quinn need to be run out of town FAST!

  4. Meme Meyagi says:

    what is done about 7 million mooslime terrorists living in usa?

  5. Truth says:

    The real question is “What happens to the horse if they don’t work as slaves?” People are commenting that they should be on a farm, roaming around freely. Who is going to pay for that? Horses are not cheap. In a way, the horses are getting paid by getting fed and taken care of. I’m sure mistreatment is going on but I’m sure that also happens on a farm. If there is no one to take care of them, then they are put to sleep. I hate Bloomy as much as the next guy. How come the horses are not restricted to just Central Park? If I was riding, I would be a bit scared of being mugged in the park. I would never ride them since I live here but as a tourist, I would probably ride it.

    1. slee11211 says:

      Sorry. No. There are plenty of groups set up WAITING AND WILLING to take the carriage horses. They cannot WAIT for the day when these poor animals are not abused any more. Bloomberg is dead wrong on this and sounds like a buffoon. He should know how serious the opponents to this industry are.

      1. Meme Meyagi says:

        slee11211, hug a tree during a storm, this will take care of your troubles

  6. jlinden says:

    I don’t see anyone saying the same thing about police horses? They also live in parking garages and “work” the streets for long hours in poor conditions. Agreed that it would be more humane for any horses to only work in the park but is that realistic? Is anything about NYC really humane to anyone?

    1. dfgat says:

      I am against that too. Absolutely.

  7. tamara says:

    I have always felt sorry for the carriage horses and it .is so cruel to have them on the streets this isnt 1890. I was stuck in traffic on a bus recently and a horse was close to the bus the whole ride and it was awful to watch him being driven in the congested traffic .If indeed the Mayors daughter is the spokesperson for equine welfare at the ASPCA it makes him even more of a hypocrite .He is such a bland boring guy. He is just a businessman and he has absolutely no insight into anything that doesnt have to do with finance.What a dope.

    1. Meme Meyagi says:

      are you going to pull that carriage instead of the horse? if yes, then i support what you said

  8. Made in Bklyn says:

    Maybe that’s the only job those idiot horse drivers can get. They have no sense to detect a sick/malnurished horse & take it off the street. These poor animals will continue to pound the streets and will never be fairly treated as long as the Bloomberg administration believes this to be the draw of NY tourism. Abolish this outdated hourse and cart !! Speak up to tourists who ride them !!

    1. tipp man says:

      Ill bet you could not get past the first stage of geting a licence to drive a horse and carriage. Try it and then try to call them iditos. Dont talk about things you know nothing about. All of the carriage drivers are are very well educated in animal health and wellbeing and must pass extensive exams and the horses are very well looked after. And before you ask No i am not a carriage driver. I am a vet

  9. Marina Ios says:

    why is it lately that each time our mayor makes a comment on some issue, automatically something extremely stupid comes out of his mouth
    seriously, why so much arrogance contained in his answers lately. the feeling i am getting is that he really hates his job,hates this city, except 5 ave, maybe- this job implies representing and protecting the people in this city, some of us-without being aware of consequences- actually voted you in that office
    and to get back to the point here: those horses do not need a job which makes them inhale smoke and be hit by cars, lets be serious, if this meant to be a joke, is a bad one

  10. Bigbrostyx Walls says:

    I think its’ all been said.There was a time in our history when horse drawn carriages were needed.That time has since come and gone.Stop the exploitation of these poor creatures!Show some real humanity.

    1. Meme Meyagi says:

      absolutely, you should pull the carriages instead of the horses

  11. Joe Russo says:

    A horse in the city is like a fish out of water!

    1. Truth says:

      which makes it a great attraction

  12. abbyeleven11 says:

    Hysterical. A quick google search shows Bloomberg’s daughter, Georgina, is the “equine welfare ambassador” for the ASPCA. and here he is saying carriage horses are fine and dandy and needed. Can you imagine what dinner is like in that house? how can she advocate for equine welfare when her FATHER thinks carriage horses are fine????

    1. Meme Meyagi says:

      you are hysterical, calm down. nowhere did it say that the horse was abused. and if you insist, you can pull that carriage instead of your beloved horse

    2. Carriage Horse Lover says:

      Easy- Mayor Bloomberg KNOWS the FACTS- the NYC carriage horses are well provided for and beloved by millions. HE is advocating for the horses.

      His daughter, who takes part in a sport- show jumping that injures, lames or leads to the deaths of many more horses eacy yearthan does the NYC carriage industry, is just parroting the script ginve her by the ASPCAS. The CEO of the ASPCA is also a board member of the NYCLASS group that wants to ban the carriages and replace then with FAKE antique electric cars . THAT group is backed by a rich real estate developer who wants to buy the horse stables (that were built originally as horse stables- NOT parking garages) because they are on valuable land he wants to develop. FOLLOW THE MONEY and you will find that something STINKS in NYC- AND it is NOT the horse manure they complain so much about.

  13. Mark L. says:

    Well past their prime and dependent upon their handlers. Not unlike Bloomberg’s third term.

  14. Bee says:


  15. Brooklyn says:

    Bloomberg…when are you leaving? You are so sarcastic all the time about everything!
    One time walking through central park, I saw a carriage horse slip going down a hill and then start limping and the driver whipped him to make him keep going. I was so MAD. I really wish they would ban these carriage rides and let the horses be horses. There are so many other things for tourists to do in the city I think NY will be ok with no carriages!
    I agree with Chris with having a horse cam in the stables so people can view them. But I think they should be sent somewhere with a large field.

  16. Debbie says:

    Bloomberg of course is only worried about money not the health of the horses. He is a jerk that would not know a healthy horse from an unhealthy horse. Does actually believe what he says? Since when are these horses such a heritage of New York City? I was in the city a lot when I was younger and do not remember seeing these horses. If the ASPCA is overseeing the health and welfare of these horses they are sure as hell gettting paid off to look the other way.

  17. Robert says:

    Obviously, our illustrious mayor needs to get an infusion of compassion. His daughter, Georgina Bloomberg, is listed as a supporter of NYCLASS’s bill to replace the horses with electric replica vintage cars. I’m glad that his ignorance skipped a generation.

  18. bily320 says:

    Horses should not be breathing in Tons of Carbon Monoxide or be out in the freezing cold or heat. There are plenty of farms NY and PA.. Get them off the streets, keep them in the park and shorten thier routes. Screw Bloomberg

  19. D. Navarro says:

    Der Fuhrer Bloomberg is such an asshole he’s lucky to have a job.

    1. Zat says:

      The Fuhrer commandered his job by getting rid of term limits.

  20. Jinny says:

    The horses seem to be well taken care of, maybe some are on the skinny side but nothing major. Even horses get old and die at some point. I have worked with horses for many years and have found that horses enjoy having a job and indeed age faster when they are left in a field all day with nothing to do but eat. A dead horse in the street is not a good sight and my heart goes out to anyone who saw it, but if he went fast like that (heart attack?)it really wasnt a bad way to go for him. The normal life span for a horse is 20-30. ,.

    1. slee11211 says:

      Wrong. Please go research what people who have gone undercover into the industry have found. What you are assuming is what MOST NY’rs assume. And it’s straight up wrong (sadly). The abuse is staggering. The horses completely “disappear” the minute they experience any health issue that keeps them off the street for more than a day (which is quite often as the working conditions are not ideal for health). They are sold to those who look for a quick buck at the slaughterhouses and the owners have found loop holes in the laws to hide this fact. The drivers do NOT follow the laws set in place and the ASPCA doesn’t really enforce it. So you WILL see a horse out on a snowy day, when it’s not supposed to be. You WILL find a horse kept in a tiny stall standing in it’s own excrement and bile for DAYS in a run down firetrap. So it is, in fact, a very cruel and abusive short life for these poor animals. They are NOT happy….go walk up to any one of them and look them in the eye…Any horse lover knows this and we are working to end it.

      1. Meme Meyagi says:

        slee11211 are you going to pull that carriage instead of the horse? if yes then go for it, if not, then hug a tree during the storm, it will take care of your troubles

  21. Diane says:

    It’s a disgrace he said they are lucky to have a job! Their job, if any should be on a farm, not walking the streets of NY or any other city.

    1. Meme Meyagi says:

      diane are you working on a farm? if not, then get to it

  22. Starbuck says:

    For once, I agree with him

  23. Chris says:

    I believe him to an extent. I think there should be a horse cam in the stables were they are kept that anybody can view. Now that’s a good idea!

  24. Maxine Rocks says:

    The protestors complain they need jobs – well, here’s an opening! And they’d be ‘lucky to have a job’!
    Mayor Bloomberg – the epitome of ignorance, idiocy, and cruelty. Where’s PETA when you really need them?? This would actually be something they should protest – so,of course, they probably wont.

  25. Marie - Staten Island, NY says:

    I believe the horse and carriages should only be allowed to be in Central Park – not in the streets w/cars, buses, trucks, etc. – is is not fair to the poor animals. There also should be an stable erected in the park for them when not in use. No need for outside stables – the park is big enough to house an efficient, animal friendly stable. If this can’t be done – then the horse & carriages should be eliminated. I feel they do not treat their horses properly. And as a native New Yorker – I have never rode a carriage ride nor did I ever want to – as, again, I feel they are mistreated.

    1. AnimalLova says:

      Probably the best response i’ve seen this story.

    2. thyup says:

      I asked that (I am a person who is a supporter), apparently Central Park does not want them…..

  26. Astoria says:

    I would like to also ban walking on water. Seems too many organizations are setting up so many obstacles to enjoying any segment, any element of life that we will all eventually be required to walk on water. If that happens, I will surely sink. Therefore, we MUST ban it now, before it becomes a law.

  27. val says:

    I’m sorry, did he say the horses are “lucky to have a job”? They are horses! They should be out on a farm somewhere. Are they paid for this job? NO. The tourists can take Pedi-cabs. At least those guys get paid for busting their humps!

    1. Meme Meyagi says:

      val, i will support your idea if you will be pulling the carriage instead of the horse

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